When I look back on the suffering in my life, I now see it as a gift.
I would have never asked for it for a second, I hated it while it was happening and I protested as loudly as I could, but suffering happened anyway. Now, in retrospect I see the way in which it deepened my being immeasurably.
I recently spent time in the local hospital as a result of a wound that I incurred accidentally. The hospital was filled with staff who were more or less karma yogis without having any idea of what karma yoga is in its Eastern definition.
For me, that was like being on a vacation because there was no demand on me in my role as Baba Ram Dass. I just thought about love and we all loved one another. I got through the physical suffering by remaining in the depth of my soul.
I also used the perspective of the witness. I witnessed the suffering, I witnessed my body as it got hold of my mind in reaction to the pain. I witnessed the capturing of my consciousness. Eventually, that witness gave me the leverage to transform my suffering.
It was interesting; my sadhana (spiritual work) came through, my years and years of practice. Everyone who encountered me saw that my spirit was strong if not my body. I immediately settled on the fact that what happened to me was simply a matter of nature. Once I realized that it was nature and karma, I was content and with that contentment I was able to surrender to the One: to the Guru, God, and Self.
I had Maharajji’s photo in the hospital and I talked to him, not about the suffering, because I accepted early on that this was just nature and inevitable. But rather, I talked to him about love. About truth. About joy. Of course, that’s the time to be able to burrow into that moment in any of life’s twists and turns. I was very grateful to have this grace in those very difficult circumstances.
And that grace is always available; we just need to sink into our spiritual hearts, our souls, and see our lives as a passing show from that perspective.